After far too many years of being neglected and standing vacant the 1903 built Royal George Hotel in East Fremantle will finally be renovated and the parking site behind it developed.
Saracen Properties will initially lease the property from the National Trust but will be able to purchase it after rigorous heritage assessment of the proposed residential apartment building behind the heritage-listed building.
Th former hotel will be turned back to a pub and restaurant at ground level and short-stay accommodation at the upper level.
The question will be how many apartments and how many storeys Saracen want to build behind the old hotel, as this was very controversial at the burnt-out Guildford Hotel where State agencies overruled the local council there and allowed inappropriately high building behind the hotel. Hopefully Saracen want a more modest residential building that respects the heritage and streetscape.
We will have to keep a close eye on the proposed development, but at least something is happening with the hotel at the far end of charming George Street.
East Fremantle residents and heritage advocates have been worried about the demise of the old Royal George Hotel for many years, as there appears to be little action to remedy the decline and neglect of the building.
We now however have been informed that there is a Working Group that includes State Heritage Office, the Town of East Fremantle and the National Trust to work with Westbridge Property Group towards a conditional purchase lease over the Royal George Hotel.
Westbridge is putting together a package of information that will be used to brief the Minister for Lands. The Working Group recently visited the site, local residents were told by the department.
The Westbridge Property Group combines Saracen Properties and Sirona Capital and the group is involved in the Quest Hotel development in Pakenham Street, Fremantle, Habitat Nth in North Perth, the Glass House in South Perth, Tenth&Beaufort in Inglewood, and properties in West Perth and Perth.
ROEL FOR FREO! Beaconsfield Ward. Truly Independent.
Written and authorised by Roel Loopers. 5 Maxwell Street. Beaconsfield 6162
I am outraged to read in the Fremantle Herald today that the Town of East Fremantle allowed the heritage-listed former Lauder&Howard building to be destroyed to the point where only a part of the facade is kept to make way for development.
It is unbelievable that Council would have got such bad advise from its planning department and heads should roll over this disgraceful act of heritage vandalism. How ironic that the building was owned and occupied for many years by heritage stallward Les Lauder who started the Fremantle Society over 40 years ago to prevent the destruction of our heritage buildings.
The Herald quotes Councillor Cliff Collison saying “We probably did get it a bit wrong” No Cliff you did not get it “a bit wrong” but very very wrong! It is outrageous that you allowed for the historic1901 erected building to almost be demolished and East Fremantle Council and its planning staff should be ashamed of themselves!
There has been quite a bit of misleading and factually wrong information going out to support the No vote against East Fremantle amalgamating with Fremantle, so let’s read what Freo’s Mayor Brad Pettitt has to say about it:
As of Monday morning 46.27% of East Fremantle residents have voted on the poll around amalgamation with Fremantle Council. To put this another way – just another 193 more people are required to vote by Saturday for the poll to be valid. As this vote steadily heads towards the 50% required I can’t help but wonder where this all might end up. Assuming it makes the 50% the odds would suggest many of those who voted did so to oppose the amalgamation and as a result the whole amalgamation will be off.
While I’d be disappointed after so much community time and effort has gone into getting a sensible merger plan up for a new greater Fremantle, I’ve ultimately got no problem with this result so long as people did vote with the correct information in front of them.
Unfortunately the ads in Fremantle Herald in recent weeks certainly aren’t providing that accurate information for East Fremantle voters. So this blog post aims to correct the record so people can vote with the facts in front of them.
Fremantle and East Fremantle councils have been working well together for many months to get an outcome that is good for both. I’ve been pleased with the level of collaboration.
Mayors (along with possibly the deputy mayors and an independent chair) as interim commissioners is the most sensible way of keeping a continuity of representation and decision making going. No conflict of interest that I can see given many of us were elected to 2017 anyway. But ultimately this is the Minister’s call not ours.
Fremantle Council’s finances are in a very strong position. You may have seen last week in The West that Fremantle’s cash reserves increased more than any other local government’s over the last few years. Our debt is smaller than this and Fremantle’s finances are strong by every empirical measure.
Fremantle has won a number of awards for it town planning (amongst other things) in recent years and this council has recently ushered in some major changes to our town planning scheme to kick off the revitalisation of the Fremantle CBD. It is pleasing to see these changes now gaining momentum on the ground.
The apparent quote from me “that the reason the Barnett Government wanted Fremantle to take over East Fremantle was because [Fremantle Council is] “pro-development”” is simply incorrect. I have publically said “At the heart of [Fremantle not been forced to merge with Melville] was demonstrating the Fremantle was committed to substantial population growth, economic investment and keeping Fremantle as Perth’s second city. The pro-development approach whilst controversial for some in the community was undoubtedly important to demonstrating to the local government advisory board and the State Government that Fremantle could be a sustainable local government area by itself into the future”. This is quite a different and it is been missed used in this context.
As for the silly idea that Fremantle Council can’t wait to build “massive high-rise development” on East Fremantle oval or View Terrace or Leeuwin Barracks. Again this is just wrong and just plain old scaremongering. Fremantle Council have always said we respect the existing East Fremantle town planning scheme.
Finally, all I’d say to East Fremantle residents is: it is entirely up to you as to how you vote and I have no desire to influence this important decision other than to say please don’t take what is written in these ads as accurate. Instead, dig a little deeper and see what both options might mean for you going forward. Here is some Freo info that might also help: http://www.fremantle.wa.gov.au/cityoffremantle/Local_government_reform
East Fremantle residents are voting in high numbers in the Dadour Act which will determine if the Town of East Fremantle will amalgamate with the City of Fremantle.
Some people have been spending a lot of money on full-page advertisements in community newspapers to promote a NO vote against an amalgamation, and some Fremantle Elected Members claim that untrue and non-factual statements have been made in these ads. The City of Fremantle has deliberately stayed out of the debate and not try to influence the vote, or even set straight some of the facts.
The proposed amalgamation between our two communities in not a hostile take-over bid by the City of Fremantle. I believe it is common sense to amalgamate and make us into a bigger city, and I personally have never seen East Freo as anything less than being a part of Freo.
The arguments I hear against the COF council and the administration might well be true but they are also totally irrelevant, as there will be a whole new Council for the amalgamated Fremantle. There will also be a huge shake-up in the administration because an amalgamation would mean duplication of staff, directors and CEO. So many of the present Councillors will not be on the new greater City of Fremantle council and a high number of staff will also have to find jobs elsewhere.
The fear that East Fremantle would get a less efficient administration is as unfounded as the fear is that sitting Fremantle Councillors would continue. There will no doubt be new candidates like Mark Woodcock and Matthew Hansen and many sitting East Fremantle Councillors might also want to join the new council, so new brooms will sweep through Townhall at every level
I get parochialism, but sometimes it stops progress because of fear of change. I believe that is happening at East Freo. A larger and progressive Fremantle will have more cloud, more money, and more opportunity to implement change, attract developers and move forward in cohesion and collaboration. To oppose the amalgamation is in my opinion short sighted and has a bit of a NIMBY attitude.
I urge East Fremantle voters to vote YES and embrace the amalgamation and modernisation of our communities together!
P.S. Stay tuned for a public forum-probably in March-on what candidates the community would like to have for the next Council election.
Fremantle Council will only sit six more times before a Commissioner takes over to implement the amalgamation with East Fremantle-unless the East Fremantle Dadour Act vote on February 7 does get the required 50% of votes against a council merger. This means the Fremantle community needs to start being pro-active and have a conversation about what type of new Councillors we want here, as the supersized new City of Fremantle will not only bring new boundaries but also new challenges for our Elected Members.
How satisfied have YOU been with the performance of the individual Councillors, who are the ones you want to get rid off, and who would you like to continue on Fremantle Council? Who in our community could be possible candidates and how will we convince them to nominate for Council at the next election? Who are the real community leaders who actually listen to us, instead of the tokenism community consultation has become in Fremantle? Who would we like to step up and come forward to represent us?
These are very important questions that need to be debated. We have quite a few sitting members who have been unopposed for years and there is huge dissatisfaction in the community about the consultation process and inconsistent decision-making, as well as with parts of the administration.
Fremantle needs to grow and improve but to do so we need a Council of realists who have real and achievable visions and who are not constraint by ideology and blinkered views.
The only way forward for Fremantle is to start fresh and to not let the slogan “Let’s Finish What We Started” sway us that we need to keep the present mob in power. My personal overall rating of Fremantle Council over the last four years is DISAPPOINTING, INCONSISTENT, BAD HEARING.
Here are some thoughts from East Fremantle Councillor Michael McPhail on the amalgamation:
The decision on February will present the option of merging the Town of East Fremantle (7000 residents) with a new City of Fremantle that will double in size to 66,000 residents (taking in areas that generate significant rates to the south and east).
The most significant event that is to happen to our community in the next decade will be the construction of the Perth Freight Link, a six-lane freight freeway from Kewdale to Stirling Bridge. This new freeway will lead to a doubling of port freight (and carcinogens) through our suburb in the next decade, as well as removal of Marmion Street access from Stirling Hwy.
A number of academics have proposed models of local government reform that are far more nuanced and thoughtful than the options we have on the table for February 7.
I lament that the State Government ran a process that would make a flock of ostriches proud. Indeed, this seems the standard approach by all State Governments when they discuss local government ‘reform’. The hope of getting a more enlightened set of options to choose from is as low as Colin Barnett’s approval rating.
If both very large and very small local governments have issues with remaining accountable, I would suggest there is a sweet spot in the middle. At 66,000 people, the new City of Fremantle would be the third smallest local government in Perth (post-amalgamation).
In my view, this is the Goldilocks size: not too large, not too small, but just about right.
The decision we (East Fremantle) have to make on February 7 is not whether the current structure served East Fremantle well over the last 120 years, but whether it will serve us well over the next 120 years. This is not an easy question to answer and people will have different opinions. However, I wanted to highlight that the answer to this question requires far more thought that some would have you believe.
Forming the Municipality of East Fremantle made a lot of sense 118 years ago and served our suburb reasonably well for the 20th century. However, I do think the challenges that face our suburb are becoming and will be far more advanced and substantial than our little local government was designed for. Significant change is always difficult to back. It requires stepping outside your comfort zone and relying on vision rather than history. However, when I ask the question: will our current structure be the best structure for the next 118 years? I can only but answer no.
The latest info from the State Government on local government reform:
Metropolitan Local Government Reform Update
Planning for projects
Questions about whether proposals for major local government projects can still go ahead have been raised by a number of councils preparing for changes to their boundaries next year.
Decisions on this are a matter for the councils involved to determine and, from the outset of the reform process, councils have been encouraged to work together to get the best results for their communities.
Local Government Minister Tony Simpson has highlighted the need for local governments to liaise with each other in relation to any major decisions that may impact on them in the future.
With the changes now only months away, it is vital for this to continue.
Collaborating and providing advice to their councils on such situations is one of the areas in which the relevant Local Implementation Committees can make a major contribution.
Each LIC includes senior representatives from the local governments that are coming together to form a new or adjusted district. A liaison officer from the Department of Local Government and Communities also attends each LIC meeting and some committees include a representative from the WA Local Government Association.
The LICs provide the opportunity for the different councils to work together and identify what would be in the best interests of the new local government and their community.
They also participate in each Metropolitan Reform Implementation Committee, the high-level committee established to oversee the implementation of the reforms.
If the local council reform bill passes parliament and if the East Fremantle electors poll against it is unsuccessful the new City of Fremantle will have one or more Commissioners from July 1 next year for at least five months.
Fremantle Council prefers to wait with new council elections until a ward system has been put in place, which would delay an election until March 2016, so how good or bad will it be for the enlarged Fremantle to have a Commissioner. History tells us that Commissioners are not just taking on a caretaker role but that they actively engage in governance and implementing new policies. There was quite a bit of controversy about that in Cockburn and Cannington with many unhappy residents.
At Wednesday’s full council meeting Councillor Rachel Pemberton suggested that the Mayors of Fremantle and East Fremantle, together with an independent person should be appointed as Commissioners for Fremantle, but is that the most desirable outcome? Councillor Bill Massie opposed the idea saying that no one who would stand for council at the next election should become Commissioner because it would give them unfair advantage. With so many individual residents and residents’ groups like the Fremantle Residents and Ratepayers Association(FRRA) and the Fremantle Inner City Residents Association(FICRA) unhappy about Fremantle Council and Mayor Brad Pettitt I wonder if the Freo community would be happy to see him making unscrutinised decisions for our city for up to nine months. At present there are 13 elected members at Fremantle Council and majority votes are required, but should only three people decide Freo’s future our Mayor’s focus on bicycles, high buildings and environmental sustainability might not sit too well with those in the community who are not Pettitt supporters. The same would apply to East Fremantle residents who are not happy with their present Mayor Jim O’Neill and who don’t want him to make big decisions for the new Fremantle without them having a say in it.
I am not sure that a city could only be in caretaker mode for nine months, with major decisions delayed till after the community has elected their new representatives, but I am also worried about the power of only one or three people to make irreversible – and possibly disastrous-decisions the community does not agree with. In a caretaker only mode the Commissioners could be the CEOs of East Fremantle and Fremantle together with an independent person, with restrictions put on their power by the State Government.
Fremantle Council in collaboration with the Town of East Fremantle Council will have to make a decision if they want to apply to State Government for a delay in council elections that are scheduled to be held in October next year. The reason for it is that the October election would not have a Wards system in place, which is seen by many in the community as negative because some parts of the city might not be represented by a councillor.
The alternative State Government has flagged is to have the election in early 2016 instead when a wards structure can be in place. This would mean that the commissioner appointed from July 2015 would stay on for at least six months, instead of just 4, but the positive is that the election might not be kidnapped by political parties and will be fought on very local parochial issues only.
What would you prefer?